Myths have been a great part of history, from the very moment humans roamed the green marble we call Earth. Therefore, mythology has become just as relevant in attempting to answer life’s greatest questions as any scientific method. Myths have shaped our world from the very beginning to the world we live in today. We will explore the common meaning of myth versus the academic meaning of myth, what are some of the common mythological themes, and the relationship between belief, knowledge, mythology, and religion.
Myth is a word commonly used to describe “a widely held but false belief or idea,” (Google, 2014). As an example, when someone says ‘that’s a myth,’ they are commonly referring to something being false, untrue, or nonfactual. It is in this context that the majority of the population would use and have used the word myth. In an academic context, a myth is an ancient narrative that attempts “to answer the enduring and fundamental human questions,” (Leonard & McClure, 2004, pg. 1). I would define a myth as a statement or event that is believed in without factual basis. Just because the facts elude us, does not make something untrue or false, merely unproven. If something remains unproven, it should not be considered or perceived as false. After all, if it is not proven to be false, it does not make it true and vice versa.
The most common mythological themes are of creation, the birth of order, and secretion themes. Many diverse culture around the globe address such similar and universal themes because they are all attempting to answer the most profound questions. Questions that deal with our existence, the existence of all around us, as well as what occurs upon the death of our bodies. These themes tend to cover the creation of all that exists, the order and mechanics of everything, and why things are the way they are.
One commonly overlooked creation myth is that of the big bang theory. There is no factual data that indicates that the big bang occurred ‘millions of years ago,’ or that it occurred at all, let alone that it will repeat the cycle of condensing all material into a sphere (the size of a period on this page, up to marble sized which is the source of another debate). Truth is that there is more data that points to a young earth, solar system, and universe than there is for ‘millions of years’ (Creation Today, 2010).
There exists an intertwining relationship between belief, knowledge, mythology, and religion whether or not we acknowledge it. Many religions are based on mythology and those in practice of such religions must believe in the knowledge attained from and passed on by centuries of practitioners prior to them. For example, a Buddhist believes he or she will reincarnate to a higher or lower social class depending on their behavior during their current life. This cycle is repeated until enlightenment is attained. This is based on the mythology of Buddha that has become a religion, which millions of people around the globe believe to be truth based on the writings of Buddha himself and the knowledge of all those who came after him. It is this intersection of belief, knowledge, mythology, and religion that has helped countless of people cope with fear of death, or fears in general, with poverty, injustice, suffering, and the unknown.
Mythology is still relevant in today’s contemporary culture. Although, the word mythology is not commonly used synonymous with religious beliefs, mythology has shaped the modern social cultures. The majority of people have a religious point of view, whether they believe in a god, many gods, or none at all. It is these belief systems that help them to deal with the unknown, hardships in life, and death. Science has been making leaps and bounds in recent years. Nevertheless, modern science cannot pretend to know half of everything, but given that it did know half of everything, is it not possible to have a creator that dwelled in the half we do not know? I dare to comment that it is quite possible, even more so, that it is inevitable.
Creation Today. (2010, May 12). The age of the earth. Retrieved from http://creationtoday.org/seminar-part-1-the-age-of-the-earth/
Google. (2014). Google search. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=myth&safe=off
Leonard, S., & McClure, M. (2004). _Myth & knowing: An introduction to world mythology_. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.